Seven months ago, I retired. It’s weird to think that “I’m retired”. That’s something old people do. At the time I didn’t really say anything about it, as it just seemed odd. I wrote something vague about leaving healthcare, but I didn’t mention that was the end of the work phase of my life. I will say that I do not miss working. I’ve held a job of some sort every year of my life since I was thirteen. From paper routes to lifeguarding to working in ski shops and a short order cook. I worked my way up in the tech world from writing manuals to phone support to traveling to do on-site deployment and installations. I moved on to software engineering and managing large tech teams. Eventually I got bored and moved to healthcare. So, it’s fair to say I’ve put my time in. And now I’m done.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well, last night some friends we hadn’t seen in a while asked, “are you loving retirement?” And… I really didn’t have an answer.
When Mrs Troutdog and I decided it was time to be done, I had visions of travel and exploring without the constraints of worrying about the 9-5 routine. I had projects I needed to do, and creative stuff I’ve been thinking about. Finally, unlimited time to cook and get my diet and fitness dialed in.
So, did all that happen? Uh, no. Not exactly. I honestly don’t know where the time went or what I’ve been doing. We had a house remodel going on that consumed time and schedules. The weather this year has been weird, making it a little harder to do outside stuff. I did some motorcycle riding, but not as much as I’d thought I’d do. The creative juices faded a bit. I spent a lot of time reading and napping. In a nutshell I blinked, and half a year went by.
Why did that happen? I realized I’ve been a passenger instead of a driver. As an adult, especially in the midst of your working life, it’s easy to become a slave to your calendar. There’s a contractor coming to the house this afternoon; hockey tickets tomorrow; need to grocery shopping; a friend wants to play golf on Wednesday; I need to clean up the garage a bit; laundry; lawn needs mowing; we have to go to that thing with your sister this weekend. And so on, and so on, and so on. It’s life.
But time marches on and eventually you realize all you’re doing is being reactive to the tasks and events on your calendar. You’re being a passenger in life. You’re not driving the calendar – it’s driving you. I get it when you’re mid-career, you’ve got young kids and juggling the soccer mom/dad thing. It’s hard to do anything other than just get through the day-to-day minutia. But I don’t have that excuse. I literally have unlimited time. I can put anything on my calendar I want.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in. I’m not bored at all. But it’s clear that I’m not really driving my life right now. I’m just drifting along, enjoying whatever pops up any given day. Maybe after a long work career, that’s enough for some folks. But not me. I want more.
It’s time to climb into the drivers seat and dictate what I want out of my time. Because as the last half-year has demonstrated, time is accelerating at a frightening pace. I can’t control time, but I can control what I do with that time.
How about you? Are you being a driver or a passenger?